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By Tom Meek | May 4, 1998

Like “Hoop Dreams,” Spike Lee’s latest revolves around a hot high school basketball star (NBær Ray Allen as the kid poetically named Jesus) and like “Blue Chips,” it’s about the dirty business of college recruitment. Denzel Washington gives a slam-dunk performance as Jesus’ temperamental father, serving a prison term for the death of his wife. He gets furloughed with the promise of a shortened sentence if he can convince Jesus to attend the Governor’s alma mater. Lee makes a great looking film, though the soap box message about greed becomes exhausted and overplayed early on. Allen looks uncomfortably stiff as his character sulks through his big decision and the stylistically ambitious ending, while edgy and striking, is unsatisfactory. Lee should have drawn up a tighter game plan but just the same his hoops hoopla still has enough game (mostly in the form of Washington) to win over the audience.

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